Missing WWII artwork found in old attic given to National Museum in Warsaw
An oil painting that disappeared during WWII, only to be rediscovered stashed in an attic in Łódż in 2019, has finally been restored and given to the National Museum in Warsaw.
Before the war, 'Under the Birches' by Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt which had been entered into the inventory of the State Art Collections in 1923, had hung on the wall of an old aristocratic residence in the central village of Spała.
Edelfelt (1854-1905), a recognised portrait painter and a representative of realism, was one the first Finnish artists to achieve international fame.
During the Second World War, the Spała residence was occupied by the German Supreme Military Command 'East' but the wartime fate of the painting remained unknown.
In 1945, the residence was looted and burned to the ground by the Red Army.
In 2019, a couple named Katarzyna and Krzysztof Kaczmarek found Edelfelt's painting in the attic of a wooden house which had belonged to Katarzyna’s great-grandmother.
In 2019, they handed the painting to a professional conservator and asked the Ministry of Culture whether or not the work had been looted during the Second World War.
Now the painting has been was formally handed over to the museum in a ceremony attended by Piotr Gliński, the culture minister.
He said that thanks to the support of researchers and historians cooperating with the Culture Ministry, it was possible to find documents confirming the origins of the work.
He added that Poland lost over half a million works of art during WWII.
Over 60,000 of them have been identified and included in the Register of Looted Art of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Poland has been gathering data on looted and lost artwork since the early 1990s.